Employer Focus: Absolute Fencing & Decking

Absolute Fencing and Decking is a professional and popular fencing and decking company covering Plymouth and the South West. The team, headed by John Partridge, is committed to delivering exceptional results and service, and consequently enjoys a huge amount of recommendations and positive reviews. Absolute Fencing and Decking works on a large variety of private and commercial jobs, including repairs at holiday parks, hot tubs, tree-top decks and garden fences, and is soon expanding its commercial offering. We caught up with John to find out more about the business and its apprentices.

“I’ve hired apprentices now for 3 years and have found they add huge value to the company. At Absolute Fencing and Decking, we work to the “one hand” ethos; the idea that we shouldn’t be able to distinguish between each other’s work, as it is all to the same high standard. Our company is one of the most highly reviewed in its field on Facebook, thanks to our exceptional customer service and delivery and therefore our apprentices are expected to work hard to maintain the company reputation. In return, they receive one on one training from experts and become very skilled in their craft. Our apprentices can now produce work that is sometimes better than someone who has been in the carpentry profession for years!

“Everyone who joins our company are treated as equal players, with no hierarchy, as I believe that in a business ‘team’ is everything. We train our apprentices to the level that they could leave and easily find other work – but we treat them well enough that they don’t want to! We also pay them significantly more than the apprenticeship wage, as their talent for their craft deserves rewarding.

“One of the benefits of hiring an apprentice is that they are often young and malleable; you can train them to fit in with your working practices and help them develop skills that will enhance your business. I’m very pleased with Harry and Ethan, our current apprentices – they are great workers, reliable and are a big part of the team.

“My advice to other businesses thinking of hiring an apprentice would be to get them to take a personality test such as on Belbin.com; this will reveal what type of person they are, and can give you an insight into whether they’d fit in with the company and job role. Also look out for someone who has initiative and, importantly, a willingness to learn.

“My relationship with Skills Group is good, and I appreciate that apprentices can start their programmes at any time of the year; this means you are not tied into hiring someone at the start of an academic term.

“We hope to continue to hire apprentices in the future”.

I just wanted to say the biggest thank you to Vanessa, my trainer. You have made my journey so much easier, I don’t know what I would have done without you. You have been amazing and helped me to achieve my qualification. You’ve guided me through every step of the way, I really appreciate it, Vanessa, you have been my rock.

Katie Shorland, Level 2 Hairdressing

I always struggled in school as I wasn’t very academic, so knew learning on the job would be a better option for me. I would find it difficult to get up for 9am but now I wake up and look forward to my day. I wanted to try a hair apprenticeship as I’ve always been interested in hairdressing, and by the end of the first week, I already loved it!

Jaimee Benson, Level 2 Hairdressing

I have developed a range of new skills through work including the technical, industry skills required for the job, to personal development such as ensuring I am always on time. The biggest change since leaving school is adjusting to the independence you gain from earning a salary. My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship would be find what you like doing, and go for it!

Will Birch, Level 2 Bricklaying

Since starting the apprenticeship, I’ve become far more confident. In a classroom, you only interact with your classmates, but through working you develop your people skills as you interact with customers on a daily basis. At school, you are closely monitored and parented, however I am now more independent and feel grown up

Sam Collard, Level 2 Light Vehicle and Maintenance Repair

The most important thing I’ve learnt since leaving school is that there are other routes to success than just academia. I failed my GCSEs, as I never suited the school environment. Now though, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship as I’ve discovered I learn more through hands-on practice.

Ben Freeman, Level 2 Carpentry

I would just like to thank you and your team for all the amazing work they do, you have provided me with the most invaluable experience which has helped to pave the way of my future. The work you do for young people is incredible!

Luke Kowalski, Teaching Assistant and former apprentice at Sir Robert Gefferys School